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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Will ‘society’ restrict my daughter’s enthusiasm for playing sport?

2 replies

DadOfTwoJimA · 17/11/2011 21:39

I'm really interested to hear any opinions/advice on:
i) Whether media & society-in-general significantly discourage/restrict girls' involvement in sport.
ii) If you have found this to be the case, any suggestions that have successfully counteracted those influences and stimulated your daughter(s) interest in playing sport.
I posted on the bloggers network here last night about the conversation my wife & I have been having on this, our main thoughts/questions are:

We enjoy sport & an active lifestyle and, while we're not going to force our children into things they don't want to do, I would like it if both our 2yr old son & our 4 yr old daughter grow up playing sport (health benefits; learnings on commitment & dedication, on how to win & lose with dignity, on teamwork, etc). However, my wife is convinced that external influences will hugely discourage our little girl from getting involved...

  • Comparative lack of professional options meaning there's less incentive for girls to play sport super-seriously
  • Society's gender typing meaning that subtly (or not so subtly) girls hear messages throughout their early life about what they should/shouldn't be doing... with many sports potentially falling under the shouldn't heading
  • The media giving boys lots of encouragement to invest in sports, while female athletes are not often publicly presented as strong role models

I think we, as parents, can have a large impact on both our kids' interest in sport through our actions - particularly if our little girl sees my wife playing/enjoying sports. But any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated on whether this is enough to counteract the above points and the potentially-restrictive influences of media and of school friends who may have little interest in sports.
OP posts:
messyisthenewtidy · 17/11/2011 21:56

I think a lot of the problem is the emphasis there is on the competitive aspect of sport. I guess this is inevitable but it can be off putting for girls; I remember as a kid thinking there wasn't much point to doing sports because no matter how good you get the boys would always be better at it. Plus I always was a bit of a lazy moo!

Now I wish I'd made more effort because as you say there are other benefits to sport apart from winning, as you say, such as health and teamwork and just setting up a routine for having exercise in your life, so I would definitely encourage her from that aspect. Good luck!

PlumpDogPillionaire · 17/11/2011 22:59

- Society's gender typing meaning that subtly (or not so subtly) girls hear messages throughout their early life about what they should/shouldn't be doing...

Yep, and this is what we need to work against, regardless of whether our DDs are interested in sport, sciences, civil/sound engineering - or anything else worth their while.

You've just got to keep listening to her, look out for signs that her sense of self and independence are being eroded by 'what's expected' (other than in useful ways - good grades, independence, etc., obv) and make sure you challenge those messages that are holding her back.

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